Doug Free might not be done in Dallas

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When looking at ways that the Cowboys can solve their salary cap woes without causing too much damage to their chances of winning, it’s hard not to turn your attention to right tackle Doug Free.

Free was awful in 2011 as both a run and pass blocker while tying for the lead for the most penalties in the NFL. By the end of the season, he was splitting time with undrafted one-time defensive end Jermey Parnell and the Cowboys didn’t suffer at all from his absence. All of that comes with a $7 million salary and a cap hit of a little more than $10 million, a combination of factors that doesn’t add up to a guy you’d expect to see back in Dallas.

The Cowboys might not see things the same way. The Dallas Morning News reports that executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday that he “wouldn’t rule Doug out” for the 2013 season and that it is “speculative” to suggest that they’d cut Free two years after giving him a four-year, $32 million extension.

There’s no trade value to protect, so it’s not like Jones is trying to find a buyer for Free’s services by feigning interest in keeping him around. That leaves a pay cut, but it would have to be a pretty severe one since it is hard to believe the Cowboys couldn’t find someone to do even a little bit better for a fraction of the cost.